From Speaking To Characters To Creating Them
♦ The second Portsmouth Comic Con takes place in just under two weeks’ time and Tripwire is proud to be a part of it once again. Here is the latest spotlight feature looking at one of its guests, writer David M Barnett…
David Barnett is a comics writer, novelist and journalist based in West Yorkshire. With Martin Simmonds he co-created Punks Not Dead for IDW’s Black Crown imprint, curated and edited by Shelly Bond, and with Philip Bond brings amnesiac super-spy Eve Stranger to Black Crown in 2019.
He also writes books with no pictures in them, including Calling Major Tom, which has been optioned for a film adaptation, The Growing Pains of Jennifer Ebert, and Things Can Only Get Better, due in November 2019.
As a journalist, he writes about a variety of subjects, but specialises in books and comics, for a wide range of outlets including the Guardian and the Independent.
He sees journalism and fiction including comics as exercising the same skills as he explained in an interview on sisterspooky’s blog back in 2017:
“I still write a lot of journalism; it’s the bulk of my working day, to be honest. And I wrote fiction for a long time while I had a full-time newspaper job, so the two have always gone hand in hand. I think, for me, it’s just different sides of the same coin. Journalism is about telling stories as much as fiction writing is, it just goes about it in a slightly different way. It’s like using different muscle groups; if you want to run a marathon, which is like writing a novel, then you train by doing a lot of running. If you want to, I dunno, punch through a wall, which sometimes journalism can feel like, then you work on those arm muscles! The best journalism is about people, as are the best novels, so the basic toolkit that allows you to get under the skin of people, be they characters you’re inventing or real people you’re writing about, comes from the same source, I think. And even when you’re writing fiction, no matter how fantastical it is, it has to be true and real and honest and logical, or it just won’t work for the reader.” http://www.sisterspooky.co.uk/2017/07/blog-tour-david-m-barnett-qa.html
He can generally be found on Twitter at @davidmbarnett
Reading Punks Not Dead, the influence of music is one that has always played a part in his writing. It was his love of David Bowie that acted as a huge impetus for his novel, Calling Major Tom, as he explained in an interview he did with blog The Mother Load last year: “Not so much a tribute, although I – like pretty much most people – was a huge fan of Bowie. It was more that his presence would haunt the book, mostly in the background. Bowie’s death provides one of the key breaking points for Thomas… it’s pretty much the straw that breaks the camel’s back for him, the pulling of the plug that lets a lifetime of disappointment and broken dreams come flooding out. But obviously, the space theme and the idea of Thomas being all alone up there dovetailed in all very nicely. In fact, it was Bowie’s death that really crystallised the novel for me. A couple of weeks earlier, the astronaut Tim Peake had made a wrong number phone call from the International Space Station on Christmas Day 2015, which I’d kind of filed away under “that would make a fun thing to put in a book some day”. Then – like Thomas – I woke up on my 46th birthday to hear the news about Bowie, and the two things sort of crashed together in my head.”
This is Barnett’s first visit to Portsmouth Comic Con as a guest (he was there the first year as an exhibitor). Barnett has made a name for himself as a distinctive British writer and he has made the move over from journalism and prose to comics effortlessly.
Tickets are available now for Portsmouth Comic Con but they are selling fast. Please visit the website for details on the show and to pick up tickets
And here’s the other guest spotlights so far